Talk:Tour Howto

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This page looks like a good resource for new tour guides. A few points:

  • There's lots of links that could be added to this page, like System Evaluation, Adoption, etc., so that tour guides, when they're looking at this on the wiki, can refer to these additional wiki pages if they need more info on the different volunteer jobs at Free Geek.
  • Something else I'm concerned about is listing the specs of Freek and Grant Boxes. The specs change so frequently that it's good to just point to one place (which is often the web page at - I think it's a little out of date right now). Otherwise you'll have to continually remember to update this page. Since this is a quickie-notes kinda page for tour guides, why not just instruct them to look at the boxes' keeper tags? Yea, you won't get info like hard drive size, but you will get speed, and it'll be apparent that a monitor, etc. comes with the machines. Shawn
    You can use the templates {{FreekBox Specs}} {{GrantBox Specs}} {{StoreBox Specs}} to show detailed specs for the various boxen build productes. RfS
  • ok so who is responsible for telling the tourists not to park in a loading zone? receiving, reception, the guide, the tour guide finder? who? Revphil 12:52, 2 Aug 2006 (PDT)
  • The record for people on a tour was 20. A new world record has been set 30: three adoptors, two tourgides in training, 22 Montessori students, three chaperones... im tired. --Revphil 13:35, 30 January 2007 (PST)

Rev toughts

on the Blaine tour

Blaine is one of our most positive volunteers. His willingness to share his love of the geek with the world is a great asset to the organization. The biggest challenge may be his mobility, which is more Free Geek's responsibility to ensure that people in wheelchairs are able to get around comfortably.

Still the guide must be able to arrange the tourists so that s/he can be heard. Thus movement and herding become crucial, especially for large groups (more than 4)

Blaine is thorough. I feel that tourists are barely capable of processing the basic idea, much less all the other stuff that goes on here. As it is the tour generally takes 30 min. If it takes any longer the volunteers coming in to sign up are waiting at the desk with volunteers trying to sign out. Plus there may be lots of questions and speical requests made of the guide, so having some time is important.

Things I would not mention on the tour:

  • Advanced Receiving
  • Mac Pile
  • Advanced Testing
  • The Tree House
  • The Lab
  • A/V Testing
  • White Hole

Instead I would like to see more understanding of the "why". Why Open Source, Why democratic process, Why volunteer driven, Why reuse, Why recycle not export/use prison labor. These questions are what separate us from other computer recyclers/education facilities/non profits. THIS IS WHY WE ROCK!

Also I often take note of the things in the meeting room. The flyers and the posters and the community board.

on the Bob tour

I joined Bob's tour and took notes. Then we talked. Here is a listing of some of the topics that came up

  • Intro
    • we both ask why our tourists are here. I sometimes ask how they heard of FREE GEEK. We could consider having some data gathered at this point
    • Bob Takes care to mention that there are 3 primary ways to initally be involved with FREE GEEK
      • Adoption revphil says 3 primary stations recieving, recycling, testing. Bob simply states that we will use you where we need you. Ok, maybe rev is being a little too meticulous.
      • Build revphil: 60-100 hours to get thought the program and build all your computers. So if you want to earn a computer, but would like to learn to build, go in the adoption program, then when you are in the Build program you will have a linux system to play with at home.
      • Half-price Thrift Store shopper. Only 4 hours and you get great deals. Sure some people only volunteer the minimum ammount of time and then just get the discount. But others will continue to volunteer for other reasons.
        (I'd add that there are numerous other ways that people can be involved, i.e. coding, hardware grants, teaching adoption classes, just sweeping up ...) RfS
  • Receiving the circulation system
    • it is good to point out the documentation on the walls and our database
      • our database is used to track where gizmos are and how many hours volunteers have accrued.
    • it may be worth mentioning items we do not accept (TVs, copiers, fire alarms, jerkfaces)
  • Testing
  • Sorting Terminology, Jargon, and other annoying hurdles at the start of Build
    • often a bottleneck in the Build Program due to limited space, staff.
  • Macpile
  • Advanced Testing
  • Recycling
  • Eval
  • Build
  • Self-empowerment is good
    • we have geeks of all ages, genders, education levels, anyone can learn
  • we encourage 4 hour shifts, but we are flexable with our schedules
  • what does "open source" mean? What is Linux?

Some other common pitfalls among tour guides:

  • too many specifics
    • often tour guides come from a specific department where they excelled. Because of people's natural tendancy to talk more about things one is familiar with, some aspects could be underrepresented, while others overstressed.
  • being heard
    • Talking and walking: guides if they are talking should be facing their audience, if they are moving that can be challenging, or dangerous (walking backwards).
    • FREE GEEK is a beehive of activity. But often some places are busier than others. Recogizing when to stop and talk is a challenge
  • blocking traffic
    • a tour guide must be prepared to herd their tourists to prevent others from interruption as much as possible
    • watch for large loads, bottlenecks, forklifts, and people carrying monitors and lazer printers.
  • the past is behind us.
    • sometimes a little reflection on how far we have come is informative. sometimes it is just depressing. certain topics are less useful to future volunteers than others.


On second thought, there's enough TEXT. I'm going to distill this down to FIGURES --Phil (?) from content page, 12/05

Seems like a good plan to have figures available. Tour participants often seem to ask things like "how much stuff have you recycled," etc. IMHO this is a role that can be at least partially served by the Stats and Testimonials page. I would like to see this document focus more on the route, and ways to introduce programs, and not get too cluttered with statistics. The statistics can be gathered at Stats and Testimonials and that way, they'll be updated in a central location. --Pete 10:44, 26 Dec 2005 (PST)

Front Doors: Welcome

  • Make sure you have everyone.
  • Give a quick summary of what we are.
  • Ask why they're here. If it's a small group, intros can be nice.
  • Explain that the tour is oriented toward volunteering at Free Geek, and will focus on primary volunteer programs.
  • Mention 2 main programs: Adoption and Build.

Laurel, June 2004

"The FREE GEEK Community Technology Center is a lot of things to a lot of people. We're a computer and electronics re-use and recycling center, sure, and that attracts a lot of people. Some people come to us because they can learn about computers and at the same time enter the world of computer ownership. Others like applying their technical skills to making community and change, or promoting Open Source software. And some folks just like smashing computers and hanging out with the good company."

Phil, 12/05

FREE GEEK is a 501(c)(3) not for profit.

FREE GEEK is your Community Technology Center. We focus on computer equipment reuse and proper recycling. We are a place to learn, teach, and better use technology.

FREE GEEK is working to solve two major problems with computers.

  1. there are way too many of them! Presently e-waste magazines claim over 100,000 computer go obsolete every day, with 500 million being obsolete by 2007. All those systems are gonna go somewhere... and considering how toxic computers are, we would rather them not go to a landfill.
  2. Many people don't have access. Estimates are that about half of our population does not have the access to computers they desire. Technology and education are expensive.

FREE GEEK solves these problems by pointing them at each other. We say:

  1. "give us your piles of unwanted techno detritus"
  2. "give us your herds of aspiring geeks wanting a better future"

We SMACK these problems together and behold: the core of Free Geek...

  1. Intake -> Recycling, Reuse
  2. Adoption and Build programs

Receiving: Intro to adoption program

  • Adoption: our main program, where people donate 24 hours of time in exchange for a computer.
  • Prior knowledge not required for Adoption volunteers.
  • Receiving: A common task for Adoption volunteers. A good introduction to the web interface and to computer equipment in general.
  • Incoming equipment flows through here; donations come from both individuals and companies. Much is still usable.

Phil 12/05

Overview of Adoption program:

24 hours = Computer with monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, operating system, lots of software and games, a 3-4 hour class in how to use it, and a 1 year tech support policy.

No experience with computers is required or expected.

Testing: Volunteer-driven

  • We can't keep everything, so we test many types of hardware.
  • Another place where adoption volunteers often spend their time.
  • Tests are designed to be simple; helps demystify. [example]
  • Testing scripts, like the database, are written and maintained by volunteers and are in a constant state of evolution.

laurel, June 2004

This is another place where adoption volunteers often spend their time. The tests are designed to be simple; helps demystify.

"Here's an example of something that sounds technical - testing computer components - where people who don't have prior computer experience do quite well. The testing scripts are designed to be sinple, so grandma, who hasn't ever even seen the inside of a computer before, can read the instructions, get some encouragement, and soon be plugging in video cards and getting useful information. People get to see there isn't any magic, they're handling the parts and even putting them together. They learn the names of things, and often come away a lot more confident."

Card & motherboard sorting: Intro to build program

  • Build: increasingly popular for people for whom earning a computer is not their top priority.
  • We don't require prior knowledge, but this takes more dedication than Adoption.
  • There's a step-by-step process working up to building systems, which starts here, with hardware recognition. (A Build volunteer's progress roughly parallels a PC's progress as it gets built up in our system.)

Phil 12/05

Overview of Build program:

Learn enough and build 5 computers and you can take home the 6th.

cards > mobos >eval1 > eval2 > command line > build workshops (qc, assembly) cards, mobos, and command line can be tested out

No experience with computers required, but a desire to learn and a commitment to see the process through are essential.

You will earn the same computer as you would in the Adoption program, and additionally you will learn a lot about PC hardware and Linux software. But it will take you longer than Adoption.

Recycling: Environmental aspects

  • A major part of our mission is environmental, so if we can't re-use equipment, we make sure it's recycled responsibly. [example]
  • Opportunity for volunteers to get lots of hands-on experience with computers they don't have to be careful with.

Jhasen, June 2004

A major part of our mission is environmental, so if we can't re-use equipment, we make sure it's recycled responsibly.

"Much of what we receive in the donation stream is either obsolete or broken, Recycling is where those machines come to rest. This is an area peopled by volunteers in the adoption program who are shown how to de-manufacture computers down to their salable parts, those parts are then sold to responsible reclamation facilities and material handlers.

We accomplish several things by doing this, the first and most important is diverting these things from our local landfill. Through re-use and recycling, Free Geek has diverted over 760 tons from local landfills since we started in the year 2000. In 2002, Free Geek was responsible for 12% of e-recycling for the entire state of Oregon, and our output nearly doubled in 2003.

The de-manufacture of these broken and obsolete machines also helps pay our bills. Materiels we reclaim from these computers have value on the scrap market as reusable resources. 24 karat gold, aluminum, copper bearing wire, motors (for their copper content), steel, and plastic are all reusable. The average computer nets about 5$ worth of salable material. Volunteer effort and our non-profit status makes it possible for us to focus more on developing relationships with responsible organizations who take stewardship of the materiels after they leave our doors. There are some unsavory practices involving the shipment of e-waste to some third-world nations who observe none of the safety and environmental practices enforced by our EPA. We are dedicated, and in fact proud to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem. Working in recycling also helps de-mystify the internal organs of the magical and wondrous computer. Recycling is the morgue, not the operating room, and ample opportunity for "exploratory surgery" without having to be concerned about the patient. Here is also a wonderful opportunity to exact revenge on every blue screen of death and obstinate VCR who would not program. Here is "payback time".

One thing we do not de-manufacture is the dreaded Cathode Ray Tube monitor. Every CRT contains 4-6 lbs of lead shielding to protect your face from radiation, Mercury, Cadmium. and Bromiated Flame Retardants to name just a few of the carcinogenic snacks within. These chemicals leak into the groundwater when they are disposed of improperly. Free Geek stacks monitors on pallets, shrink wraps them and calls a company called Earth Protection Services to take them away and recycle them responsibly in an EPA approved facility where the lead and glass are reclaimed and reused. This costs us a significant amount of money, which is why we must ask for a $10 fee for each CRT donated."

Pete Feb '06

  • Moore's Law (and related): Computer hardware gets twice as fast/big/complex every 18 months to 2 years.
  • Wirth's Law: Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster.

So...take the slower hardware, use better software, and see what you get!

Printerland & the Mac pile

  • Smaller, specialized repair programs
  • Collaboration with other organizations (MacRenewal in Eugene)
  • Dedication to re-use

Jeff, June 2004

Dedication to re-use

"The great rule of freegeek stuff:

if we can't give it away, we'll sell it. [pause] (If we can't give it away consistently and equitably to every volunteer who works for it, we sell it)."

System evaluation: Self-paced education

  • Note the stacks in the warehouse: systems that have been determined to be good by evaluators.
  • System evaluation is a step in the build program, and a first step for systems.
  • Spend as long as you need in these steps.

laurel, June 2004

System evaluation is a step in the build program, and a first step for systems. Spend as long as you need in these steps.

"Potential builders who, in card and motherboard sorting learned the names of components and certain criteria we use for them, are applying that knowledge to actual systems and determining which systems live and die. System evaluation 1 involves opening up a system that's new to Free Geek and applying our criteria to determine whether it's worth trying to refurbish. Systems to recycle will have parts salvaged from them for re-use. Systems to keep will be sent to evaluation 2, where they are actually turned on and we determine just how good they are, processor-wise. Hard drives in keeper systems are always pulled; we never access the contents of a hard drive or boot from it until after it has been tested, which involves overwriting it a number of times.

As you can see, the instructions and guidelines for system evaluation are pretty complicated. Evaluators are learning basic troubleshooting skills as well as familiarizing themselves with parts of computers they'll be working on later. They're encouraged to stay as long as they need in any of these steps - stay until they feel they are confident enough to teach the next beginner. There's no rush. We'd rather people feel comfortable with their new knowledge before they move on."

Build area: Cooperative and ongoing learning

  • People who have gone through eval and taken a basic command line class can join the build workshops, which run almost the entire time we're open.
  • Systems built here go to adoption volunteers, grant recipients, infrastructure, and the store.
  • Peer teaching: volunteers often learn something, then turn around and teach it to someone else.

laurel, June 2004

There's a lot of peer teaching that goes on; volunteers can often learn something, then turn around and teach it to someone else.

"Since the beginning (when Free Geek was ALL volunteer), we've relied on volunteers to teach each other. I've learned from experience that teaching something you've just learned is one of the very best ways to learn and to solidify your knowledge. In build workshops, there are a bunch of builders, and often a couple of assistants and teachers, but builders often end up helping each other. They can end up surprised at how much they have learned! People who like teaching are encouraged to take it on on a more regular basis and become assistants or teachers themselves."

  • Free Geek's Computers
FreeGeek builds several types of computers. The specs reflect what we have available at any given time; they gradually improve over time. Check posters in Build room or our web site for the most up-to-date specs. Also Template: FreekBox Specs, Template: GrantBox Specs, Template:StoreBox Specs.
  • FreekBox: what all volunteers earn. Most of what we make are FreekBoxen.
  • GrantBox: granted to non-profits that ask for them. Higher spec than Freek.
  • StoreBox, sold in the store for about $50 (as of 12/05.) Lower spec than Freek.
  • DisklessBox: A specialized kind of GrantBox. System consists of a Server and several "dumb terminals." Takes less electricity, less maintenance, good for some office settings.
  • StoreSpecial: high-end computers sold in the store occasionally, when we have something unusual available. Prices have ranged from $??

Lab: The FreekBox & Open Source

  • Adoption class: Because the FreekBox is often a person's first computer, and because it's using relatively uncommon software, we include a class on how to use the computer when an adopter, builder, or grantee receives one.
  • An important factor in the success of Free Geek is our use of Open Source software. [example] [example w/info on coders]
  • Internet Access at FG: The lab is available for Internet access to active volunteers as long as it's not in use as a classroom.
  • Brief, planned detour to the server room for poignant reminder why we recycle: monitor dredged from willamette

Laurel, June '04

An important factor in the success of Free Geek is our use of Open Source software.

"People often ask why we're using Free, or Open Source software like Linux when most people who have used computers have been exposed to mostly Microsoft and other proprietary software. There are several reasons. The Free Software philosophy is at least partly about empowering people to use computers as tools and to understand what they are doing - and that's very close to our goals. Also, there are current versions of Open Source operating systems and other software that run well on older hardware, which (as a recycler) is what we primarily have! And finally, there are no licensing fees involved with the distribution of this software - unlike proprietary software, which we'd have to pay for with each computer we gave away if we wanted to stay on the right side of the law. If we'd been doing that, we sure wouldn't exist today! The Free and Open Source software movement has been in the news more and more; our adopters are getting in on a growing movement and may even be ahead of the curve in some ways."

Jeff, June '04

And an important part of Open Source software is the way it's developed.

"This is our lab. It's public access internet access when it's not in use. We still teach classes in here, though that's moving shortly across those doors into our new, still in progress, classrooms. We teach the adoption class, to folks getting their new computer, we teach a class in the operating system we use, Linux, to folks in the build program so that they can work effectively in the build program, and we teach anything else people want to teach, so there have been classes in programming computers, securing computers, and other such. By being around Freegeek, you'll hear about them.

Finally, the lab is where our Coders group meets. They write all the software for Freegeek, including the database software, which tracks our gizmos, the testing scripts, which determine whether our gizmos are working, the installation software used in the build area, the terminal software which runs this lab of computers, and anything else that's needed for a functioning freegeek. All of their software, and in fact all of the software at freegeek, is Free software, Free as in liberty as well as price.

Free software, whose best known product is Linux, the operating system we use at Freegeek, is different from Proprietary software, like Microsoft's products, in a fairly simple way. With proprietary software, the person who wrote the software, or the company who owns him, says "I've written this software. It's mine. You can use it for a short period of time if you pay me a large amount of money." With Free software, the author says "I've written this software, and it helped me a lot, but it's not perfect, and it doesn't really cost me anything to give it to you, so here, have it. Make it better if you can. And when you give your revised version of it to the next person, give them the ability to make it better too.

So we at Freegeek get this huge ideological benefit from Free Software -- we're making the world a better place, one programmer at a time. But we also get two other benefits: first, we can afford it. If we gave away a microsoft windows license with every computer, we'd be bankrupt. But second, Free software runs better on older hardware. So the computer you'll be getting if you sign up for the build or adoption program will actually run nearly as fast as if you'd gotten a new computer running Windows, even though the specs are much older. This triple benefit makes all the difference."

Revphil 11:36, 7 Dec 2005 (PST)

I like to make sure the tourists know the difference between Hardware and Software

Hardware is something you can touch, this system, this monitor, anything you might plug into the computer... all hardware

Software is data. You cant really see it but you know it's there. It's the information contained within the system.

Hardware/Software is like your Body/Mind. You can feel your body, you could even feel your brain (briefly), but your mind is your memories and thought structure.

You can see there are lots of different computers out there, many different sorts of hardware. Well there are also many different kinds of software too. But nearly all software can be divided into either Open or Closed.

Some software is Open for you to look at and tinker with, and change. If you have a problem you can help fix it. And folks all over the world contribute to making it as effective and wonderful as possible.

One kind of software is Linux. We use

This documentation interupted by Xen. too bad...

Classrooms: Future plans

  • Classes: main classes are Command Line (part of Build) and Adoption. Others are offered occasionally, by volunteers, for volunteers. Free or low-cost. Examples: Advanced Linux, The GIMP.
  • Classes in other user-end Open Source software, on programming, and other similar topics are in discussion. But don't hold your breath! Development of these is beign done by the same people who are trying to run the rest of the place!

sample spiels needed!!

NAP: Other programs

  • Nonprofit Assistance Program: provide some needs analysis and hardware grants for nonprofit organizations.
  • Computers for Kids: We work with organizations that bring us groups of at-risk youth who go through more supervised and instructed versions of the Build and Adoption programs and take home their own computers.

sample spiels needed!!

Store: Focus on re-use

  • The store sells equipment that is below or outside the spec of what we need for our other programs.
  • The store is just one of the ways Free Geek generates income to stay open. [example w/good outro]
  • This not only helps us pay the rent but gets equipment back in use.
  • Active volunteers get a discount in the store.

Jeff, June 2004

The store is just one of the ways Free Geek generates income to stay open.

"So the tour is really about giving you folks a sense of the place, and trying to encourage you to find a niche here that you want to work in for a while, until you get a really good sense of the place and can help us run it. And over there I gave you lots of good ways to volunteer and help us out with your time. But I have to admit, Freegeek needs a little more than your time. We also, sadly, need a little of your money. Freegeek is a nonprofit, and as such is always in need of a little financial boost. There are many ways you can help:

  • anything bought in the store helps us, as it both gives us a little bit of revenue to keep the lights on, and it gets recycled hardware back out into the community.
  • In addition any money you can afford to donate at the front desk helps us, and as we are a 501c3 nonprofit, it's tax-deductible for you. And right now, we have a matching grant going on, so any money donated from now until August will help us reach our $38,000 goal, which will get us another 38 thousand. NOTE this is outdated now, I think I will delete it. --Pete 20:05, 26 Dec 2005 (PST)
  • Finally, even for those poor ones among us, there's a little detail: freegeek runs on donated equipment and supplies entirely, so when we run out of toilet paper, we put that up on a little list on the whiteboard at reception, a list of things that if you have around your house and don't really need, we'd much appreciate.

Now, let's go get the logistics out of the way. We'll go back to the front desk, and you can join the adnoption program if you like, I'll give the lot of you interested in the build program more information, and if you have any questions about other, more unusual ways of volunteering at Freegeek, I'll try to answer them."

Front desk: Questions and signup

Pete, 12/05

This could go anywhere, but might work well as a wrapup. The idea is to give the importance being a volunteer, to give tour attendees a sense of being vital parts of the Borg.

"Free Geek has very few paid staff, and relies heavily on its volunteers. You will be an important part of keeping things running smoothly. If you see a pile of monitors that might fall and squish a dog, do something! or say something to a staff member. The sooner we correct it, the better. If you have 3 boxes of pizza left over from an office meeting, bring em in! Geeks need to eat, too. If this aspect appeals to you, you might end up coming to Council meetings, too. We're a collective."

Spanish Tours

We have a volunteer (50055 to find contact info) named Shaunaf Frettim that is interested in doing tours in Spanish on Fridays at 2pm.